8/28 on 8/28 | RIP Grampa
As time has gone on and as my blog becomes more important to me. It's amazing to me how much planning goes into them. Whether it's the topic, date, milestone, there's a lot of thought that I put into them.
Last year, during this final week of August, I was going to talk about a topic that I decided to table for a full year because the timing wasn't right. Large in part that the following year, this year, the Friday message would be on an anniversary date.. So I wrote about something else.
And here we are.. This year. I feel prepared and not prepared all together. Last night I went through some long held onto, sentimental things to me that I've not looked at in years. Some I remember, some I had no clue that I had held onto. Tristan was with me as I went through it all.. he ate every moment up!
When I was a kid I worked a lot with my Grandpa. I got to work on his projects at home, at work, or at friends houses.
Here I am working on an airplane in Washington with my GP and his friends. I'm sanding the fiberglass wing. It was a prototype.. talk about cool!
And here I am working on a cowling for the undercarriage of the engine bay
My shoes bro! HUGE! my mom used to say I had clown feet! hahah...
I had the opportunity to help him build his own custom home. I must have been 10-12 years old.. much like the pics above.. I remember setting up a project management worksite in his master bedroom where I collected duplicate pink/yellow packing slips, old worn out blue prints and other jobsite related stuff.. all to pretend being a legit project manager, architect, construction designer person.
I had always wanted to be an architect as a kid. Something about design grabbed my soul! I remember being a really little kid seeing pictures like this, less staged, more cartoony at the time (product of the 80's).. but you get the gist...
I wanted to be the guy in office work clothes working next to my field guys talking over plans on what to do next.
I loved architecture and construction... I stumbled across a letter written to me in the 8th grade, mailed to me from my teacher over summer time about meeting an architect in person.
I am not sure why I hung on to it.. I don't remember getting it until yesterday when I was going through all my old stuff... maybe someday to share it with my friend here??... I don't know. But here it is in writing.
When I got into high school, I went into drafting.. boy did I take it seriously too...I would end up asking my weight lifting coach if I could skip class to go back to drafting. Here I am posing for a flyer later made, getting my board drafting on...
In this picture I am a Sophomore in high school... Avin, my oldest damn kid.. right now... is a Sophomore in high school... The watch here... I bought that with my very own money while working a summer in Tucson with my GP... he bought the same one. We both had matching watches until they wore out.
As time would go on, I continued on with my love for design and architecture. There was a point in my life when I almost joined the Navy with my friends. Being torn between influential parents and also my love for design and architecture, I was the only one to stick school out and pursue a life in design.
After college, I would find myself going from design job to design job. Two years here, two years there... three years here,.. all architecture, engineering, electrical design, residential design, product and manufacturing design, restaurants, hospitals.. you name it... each time I left I'd step I'd up the experience.. Throughout all of this to make ends meet I would have a side hustle where we could make extra money to either get out of debt, or simply make ends meet.
Years later I was asked if I'd like to go back into construction as an electrical designer... Shortly after getting there I knew I found my sweet spot... years of childhood dreams of designing.. smelling drywall, concrete, the beeps of trucks backing up, tools running, clanking of material hitting the floor... dude! I loved it!
Not paying attention to what was happening... one day I'm shoulder to shoulder with a field guy.. I'm looking at a set of plans, then pointing to it in real life.
Like seeing it in a movie... a cycle of life connected me to the time I was a kid seeing that picture of the guy in office get up, shoulder to shoulder with a construction worker... I was living my childhood dream...
That only inspired me further.. .I was in deep now!! I had been given the opportunity to design operating rooms and complex specialty rooms for hospitals... we were designing spaces where people would live and die... and I had a hand in how things were designed...
Lord was I good at it!! Like really damn good at it!! I get chills thinking about it all over again!
Technology at the time hadn't evolved fast enough, so I was breaking rules with approach and how and what... mixing different design platforms and truly spelling out how to build a room like this. Being a maverick at heart, my unconventional approach to things, bending the rules until they broke!.. was all more fuel for the fire... there was not a better spot for me!
There I was.. some kid, in the middle of a multi million dollar construction project, coordinating with people far more experience than I ever was, yet there I was, holding the cards of approach, no you can't do this, it has to be like this., that'd be possible but there's a beam below that wasn't accounted for, we can only have so many bends in the conduit...
talk about thriving simply out of shear joy, just plain ass LOVE man!
I would spend hours at the office, sometimes until 2-3am... I'd have 3 computer monitors open, plans from the engineers, architects, medical equipment vendors... all combining the info so my guys in the field could build it, and built it correctly.
Eventually I would work my way into the job sites, jeans, harthat, vest, boots, in the thick, all laying out virtually what was already designed from my drawings.
Yup! that's me bro! I'd be in the construction trailers talking with project managers and they wouldn't recognize me in my field attire.
One of the things that was so fun in this is that I could send my Grandpa pictures of the field work or designs we were creating. I liked sharing that part of my world with him. Just as I had hit my stride in a life's culmination of efforts, my mentor in life would pass away late summer of 2011. My Grandpa was only 70 and had a lot of life to give, however, like Chas's Mom, my GP would succumb to pancreatic cancer... lord I miss that man!
As the years would progress I would root myself deeper into the new process of design and construction. Things were no longer designed and printed on paper.. actual intelligence within a drawing file, now called a model. The model would hold an incredible amount of data. CADD, Computer Aided Drafting & Design evolved into BIM. Building Information Modeling.
Projects in their complexities would increase, demand for the design trade would evolve... although blueprints were still important, computers were on jobsites now. People were pointing at computer models, not plans like I saw as a kid.
Coming from when I was a kid, having followed the industry as a practiced passion... I anticipated this evolution and helped lead the pack.
Given how new BIM was to the country, some were politically aligned in the construction industry where some of the elite companies had the opportunity to participate in writing a book to help the Electrical, Mechanical, Plumbing trades design buildings in this new way.
There were many other electrical contractor designers throughout the country who also participated in the development of this book. Even contractors building the (at the time) the Freedom Tower in NYC in the place the twin towers fell.. talk about working with awesome people!
I didn't know the significance of my impact until I read the acknowledgments at the end...
The opportunity hit the feels on where I was in the industry and how I saw the future. Such opportunities allowed me to start teaching classes on the software and industry changes as a college class.
Me rocking the hat! :) as I taught other students. It was at this time things started to change for me... I could see the future and boy was it coming! At the time our company felt that we were just designers and that all we did was make the general contractors feel good about what we were doing. We would never be a billable department, just sit and be quiet and draw.. In an effort to lead our company effectively, over the course of a weekend, I wrote what has been now coined "My 32hr manifesto"... for work, it was called Past, Future, Present.
Over the course of 2 days I spent 32 hours writing about the past, where the future of our industry was going, and where we are presently. No one asked me to do this, I did this because I loved what I did and wanted to make us better.
When I had mustered the courage to give this to my boss a close project manager of mine suggested I not. He said he won't read it, he'll say why weren't you working instead... so disappointingly I decided not to present to my boss. I was SO deflated.. so burned out... all I could recall was seeing Avin (barely 5 at the time) crying about why I had to go back into the office.. He just wanted to hang out with me. It was a rough weekend!... After about 2 weeks of dealing with that effort gone.. I said F'it... not telling the project manager, I hit my boss up and asked for some of his time, explained what I wrote, why and gave it to him.
Although he didn't question me not working... he did in fact never read it. It sat in the same exact spot for a year... instead, just mandated more expectations on what we needed to do while devaluing where we were headed as a company/industry, or even what the customers expected of us. The 32 hours was a culmination of a lifetime of preparation and clarity.
That changed me...
In the coming year our company would be awarded a $44,000,000 electrical contract job. The single largest we had earned in our almost 70 year history. The deciding general contractor pulled me aside days later and informed me that we had been chosen and the determining factor was myself and my general foreman.. simply due to the way we used the technology and worked together. Only 4ish years prior I had cut my teeth as a newbie designer on the 14 room operating-room expansion (install pictures above were from that era)... He and I were the first to know of the project awarding before our company leadership even knew. I was astonished.... wow! We had really made that kind of difference. Not that I was looking for it or wanting it... but we didn't get a thank you or congratulations. I'm not sure if it was my young mind on the situation.. but I was emotionally and spiritually done. Leading up to that outcome, I had already done so much self discovery that I knew I was on a different path. I loved teaching my guys, I loved mentoring my team.. I loved my projects, loved them! .. but as soon as we were done, it was on to the next, on to the next.. No one cared how much love went into the project.. and at the end of the day it was about making that money. So with clarity, purpose, and support, On December 22nd, I enrolled in real estate school to do something entirely different with my life. While attending RE school I had multiple job offerings to go to the next step in my design career... no one knew of my moonlighting education... I had to say no... as hard as that was, I had to. I would keep a low profile and become licensed 4 months later. Meanwhile the huge hospital project was getting under way.. the nitty gritty was starting to get really deep. In the background, after work and on the weekends I was serving real estate clients...
I kept after it.
More job opportunities would come up, of which I had to stay the path in where I was headed... Once I knew I had 3 months worth of living expenses saved, I had to plan my exit strategy... I could feel my attitude start to wither.. I felt emotionally removed. How could I make this leap and promise myself to keep at it?? This was the single longest job I had ever had. I was shy of 6 figures, my insurance was paid for, I was damn good at this... Then a month prior to my submission of my quitting date it hit me. Should I have it my way, my last day working a career I loved, one that I was born for and prepped for.. I would have my last day be Friday, August 28th, and my first day of self employment be Monday, August 31st. August 28th was the day my Grampa left this earth... and, August 31st was my birthday.
I wanted to love those dates and fear them all at the same time. With as much side hustle as I've done over the years I had always wanted to be self-employed.... Now I had my chance... My safeguard to wanting to not quit that "job" was knowing the dates... Today is Friday, August 28th. Exactly 5 years since I left a career indirectly inspired by my GP. I worked up until quitting time that day. It was surreal, scary, exciting, sad, and flat damn emotional for me. Since then I have wanted to quit many times. I always knew I could go back whenever I wanted. When things got shitty in RE I wanted to... simply because it was an easy out... it was the dates that helped keep me in check. Sitting here typing you now, this is the longest job I have ever kept. The most amount of growth I have had in my adult life has been over the last 10 years... of which my GP has been gone for 9 of them. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of him. When I am working diligently with my hands I can feel him looking down on me. Although he can't say anything, I know he sees a "local boy doing good".. one of his famous sayings. :') The main reason why I dug up all my old stuff yesterday was because I remembered a picture in there I had of him and I. I was 12 or so. Our trip to Montana to see where he was born and our visit to Washington to see his airplane buddies. There I stand waiting for him to take my picture in front of the sign... a police cruiser flips a bitch right in front of us pulling over. She steps out and approaches my GP.. I'm like "o'crap" in my 12 year old head....
She asks, hey, would you like to get in there too?
Damn. Tears as I recall the moment.. Shit man.
You can see the excitement in my face.. one, there's a cop taking our picture, and two,. he didn't want me always wearing my hat... of which is in his left hand from having just jerked it off my head before she snapped the picture. I love you, thank you Grampa, Rest in peace good buddy There was a picture I took of my GP's property in Montana on that trip. This picture here reminds me a lot of that distant picture, but much closer. Have a grateful Friday :)